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Renewed dining restrictions are a ‘gut hole’ for some Portland restaurants

For restaurants in the Portland area, the last few months have felt like the light at the end of a very long tunnel. In February, the crashing COVID-19 cases encouraged government Kate Kate to reopen dining rooms for the first time in three months. In March, restaurants in Portland were allowed to expand their indoor capacity further. And April has brought a sunny glimpse of the coming summer – the terrace season is almost here.

Some of those gains will be reversed Friday when two of Oregon̵

7;s three largest counties – Multnomah and Clackamas – return to the high-risk category, which in turn limits restaurants to 25% indoor capacity, government Kate Brown announced Tuesday. In all, six counties representing three-fifths of Oregon’s population will fall into the higher risk category on Friday (Deschutes, Klamath, Linn and Tillamook are the others).

For restaurants with smaller dining rooms and those who stick to pick-up service, the new restrictions do not have much of an impact. Indoor dining is still allowed, albeit with a reduced number. The table size remains fixed at six people per. Party max. Companies must still close at 23.00

But for others, including Italian restaurant Amalfi’s longtime northeastern Portland, the reversal represents a major step back for an industry still under a year of cascade crises.

“It’s a gut hole,” Amalfi’s owner Kiauna Floyd said on Wednesday. “It hurts. We are currently under construction to build an outdoor space that is not complete, so we can not take advantage of it. It is devastating to an already destroyed industry.”

Floyd estimates her restaurant will lose between six and eight tables on Friday, each of which would have been filled several times each night. Last summer, the restaurant could have moved guests to the patio built on its large parking lot at 4703 NE Fremont St..But surface repairs designed to fill gaps and smooth bumps are not expected to be wrapped up in May.

After a year of figuring out how to run a business safely during a pandemic, Floyd has been “devastating” after “yo-yoing.”

“I am fully aware that besides running and operating a restaurant, there is nothing more impossible to be in than managing this situation,” Floyd said. “But from a share point of view, it is frustrating as a business owner to know that we can travel. We can hop on a plane and go to another state. We can get together in households without wearing masks. And yet it is restaurants and bars that are being punished. ”

Campana, also in northeast Portland, is among the restaurants not expecting much of a change, came Friday. Even when Multnomah County moved to the moderate-risk category in March, George Kaden and Annalisa Maceda’s year-old restaurant did not have enough space to expand indoors while still keeping tables at least six feet apart.

“We never went up as they increased capacity,” Maceda said. “There was just no way with the way our layout is.”

Campana, a new Italian restaurant that started life as a pop-up at the Grand Army Tavern, will replace the Northeast Portland bar full-time from Friday.

Campana, a new Italian restaurant that started life as a pop-up at the Grand Army Tavern, will replace the Northeast Portland bar full-time from Friday.Greetings from Campana

So far, the restaurant that replaced the couple’s Grand Army Tavern at 901 NE Oneonta St. during the pandemic, focused on helping the rest of the staff access the vaccine and prepare in the courtyard. Monday was the first day that restaurant workers and other frontline workers were officially eligible for vaccination in Oregon. But even here, the restaurant takes things slowly and chooses not to renew its permit for seating on the street.

“We did it last year, but we just have to go with our regular patio on the sidewalk so far,” Maceda said. “Because it’s not just about increasing capacity. It’s about doing it in a way that is safe, so we do not have to hire a bunch of people that we have to lay off in four weeks. ”

David Kreifels was just getting used to inviting eateries indoors at Laurelhurst Market, the steakhouse he opened at 3155 E. Burnside St. with Jason Owens and Ben Dyer in 2009. And then, on March 17, an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Kreifels and his partners consulted various agencies to find out the best course of action and eventually close the restaurant for two weeks and reveal the exposure on Instagram. When the restaurant reopened on March 31, it stuck with takeout service through its internal butcher counter.

“The underlying message for me is just to try to keep everyone safe,” Kreifels said. “It simply came to our notice then. We did it so well, and then this happened and it was a little eye-opening. And that’s why we’re not opening indoors right now. ”

Kreifels does not anticipate an immediate return to indoor dining, though he will be open to the possibility if COVID-19 cases drop or spring temperatures rise to the point where he can “open my doors and windows without freezing my customers out.”

Outdoor dining has meanwhile returned to the restaurant’s large deck, which was built in the first few months of the pandemic and opened last summer.

“I feel bad for people who do not have it,” Kreifels said. “Without a parking space to build that deck on, we would be in a whole different ball game.”

– Michael Russell, mrussell@oregonian.com, @tdmrussell

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